It’s official: The holidays are upon us, and many consumer brands are entering their busiest and most profitable weeks of the year. With so much emphasis on sales during the bustling holiday shopping season, many brands rollout special holiday packaging designed to catch the eye of the consumer and keep products flying off of store shelves. This year, a handful of distinct trends will find their way into the packaging that stuffs stockings, lands under the tree or sits beneath festive bows.

Go natural

A trend that’s continued year round for the past several years remains popular this holiday season – natural packaging. Consumers, especially among the coveted millennial demographic, are increasingly concerned about environmental impact and their ecological footprint. Forward-thinking brands are constantly looking for ways to appeal to those sensibilities, and packaging made with natural, environmentally friendly materials are an impactful way for brands to show they share those consumers’ concerns. Plant-based materials are increasingly being used in place of synthetic materials such as plastic to create biodegradable packaging. Sturdy cardboard packaging, often made from recycled materials, is also popular this holiday season. Consumers recognize that these packages can be recycled again or reused, making them a more sustainable alternative to plastics.

Getting crafty

Kraft packaging is big this year among food brands and large chains in the bakery and coffee shop spaces. This approach, incorporating foldable cardboard or thick paper packaging and wrapped with string, ribbons or adhesive seals featuring festive holiday colors, provides an artisanal touch to otherwise mass-produced products. This type of packaging appeals to customers looking for simpler packages with an old-fashioned, homemade feel.

Bucking tradition

We’re all accustomed to the tried-and-true holiday color palette, featuring red and green or cool colors that evoke the feeling of a white Christmas, but many brands are looking to non-traditional colors that help them stand out from the pack. In particular, this holiday season will feature an increase in pink and black combinations that differentiate products from traditional holiday fare.

Competition for those holiday dollars is fierce, and savvy brands take advantage of these trends to capture consumer interest and keep themselves top of mind among gift givers. Being mindful of what consumers are looking for and, frequently, the message they’re trying to send with their gifts is a smart strategy for making the most of this busy shopping season.